Preview: London Irish v Bath

Date published: November 21 2014

Conor Gilsenan, Shane Geraghty and Scott Steele return to the London Irish starting line-up for the Premiership encounter with Bath.

Conor Gilsenan, Shane Geraghty and Scott Steele return to the London Irish starting line-up for the Premiership encounter with Bath.

Tom Court, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front row with George Skivington and Sean Cox in the second row. Luke Narraway and Tom Guest join Gilsenan in the back row.

Chris Noakes and Scott Steele form the half-back pairing with Shane Geraghty and Fergus Mulchrone in the centre. Topsy Ojo, Alex Lewington and Andrew Fenby make up the back three.

London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith said: “We’re all looking forward to the battle with Bath, they’re a quality side and will be buoyed by the return of their England big guns. But we’ve had a terrific week in preparation and our boys are keen to bounce back with a big performance tomorrow. November is always a big test of squad depth.”

Meanwhile, Bath have been boosted by the return of England backs Kyle Eastmond and Semesa Rokoduguni.

Inside centre Eastmond starts alongside Jonathan Joseph in the midfield, with Rokoduguni returning to the wing opposite number 11 Matt Banahan. Luke Arscott completes the back three at full-back.

Micky Young and Gavin Henson are half-back partners for the fourth time this season. They will play from a platform provided by front row Nathan Catt, Ross Batty and Henry Thomas – all of whom started in last weekend’s victory against Newcastle Falcons.

Captain Stuart Hooper and Dominic Day are in the second row together for the first time since the opening match of the season against Sale Sharks. Another first sees blindside Matt Garvey make his first start of 2014/15 following an injury during pre-season. David Sisi is at openside with Leroy Houston continuing at number eight.

Form: London Irish have slipped to three straight defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby since their victory at Leicester in round 4, whilst they have not been victorious in the tournament at Madejski Stadium since beating Sale there in round 22 last season. Bath Rugby beat Newcastle at The Rec in round 7 and have not won successive games in the tournament since the opening three rounds of this season. Bath’s only away victory in any competition since April was 29-20 at Sale in round 1 of Aviva Premiership Rugby. London Irish have won only one of their last nine matches against Bath: 29-22 at Madejski Stadium in September 2012, whilst Bath have been victorious on six of their last seven visits to Reading.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 6 Luke Narraway, 5 Sean Cox, 4 George Skivington, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Dave Lyons, 20 Ollie Curry, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Eoin Griffin, 23 James Short

Bath: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Micky Young, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 David Sisi, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Olly Woodburn

Date: Saturday, November 22
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Roy Maybank
Television match official: Keith Lewis
Timekeeper: Eric Bullion
Assessor: Martin Fox